Google's October hardware event: Pixel smartphones, 4K Chromecast, and more

You thought Google was just a software company? Think again as "Made by Google" is making a push, with Google Home, a new Wi-Fi router, and more expected.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to push further into the hardware territory at an October 4 media event (Image: Google).

Even though we're past the launch of the iPhone 7, Galaxy Note 7, and flurry of other smartphones over the last month, the flow of new handsets isn't ending.

Google sent us an invite to its media event on October 4 in San Francisco, where it's believed the company will make several hardware-related announcements. In the invite Google included an outline of what appears to be a smartphone and the caption "We'll be in touch soon."

It's about time we heard something out of Mountain View. Rumors surrounding the event have been pouring in for months, with new smartphones, smart home gadgets, and more, expected to be announced at the event.

Pixel and Pixel XL

The headline of Google's October event are the Pixel smartphones.

Google is believed to be shying away from the previous Nexus branding, but isn't manufacturing the smartphones alone. Google is rumored to be partnering with HTC to manufacture the handsets. Of course, Google is going to do all the branding.

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Alleged render of Google's 5-inch Pixel by HTC (VentureBeat / Emil Protalinski, Evan Blass).

Android Police reported the Pixel, code named Sailfish internally at Google, will be a 5-inch smartphone. Additional specs are believed to be:

  • Quad-core 2.0GHz 64-bit processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 2770mAh battery
  • 32GB storage
  • 12MP rear camera, 8MP front
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • USB-C port (bottom)
  • Bottom-firing speaker or speakers (unknown if dual)
  • Top-mounted headphone jack
  • Bluetooth 4.2

Different from the Nexus smartphone program in the past, it's believed the Pixel will be offered in two sizes.

The Pixel XL, or Marlin internally, will appease to the "phablet" crowd with a 5.5-inch QHD display. It will also boast a larger 3450mAh battery, according to Android Police, while keeping the similar specs as the smaller version.

googlepixelxl.jpg

Alleged render of Google's 5.5-inch Pixel XL by HTC (VentureBeat / Emil Protalinski, Evan Blass).

VentureBeat leaked alleged images of the handsets, corroborating the design with earlier reports. Interestingly, the app icons are circular, which could signal an incremental software update to Android 7.0 Nougat.

The release date for the Pixel lineup is not known. Android Police reports the Pixel will retail for $649 when it goes on sale. VentureBeat adds both Pixels should be available on Verizon or unlocked directly from Google.

Google Chromecast Ultra

Google is diving deeper into your living room. The company is believed to expand the Chromecast lineup with a new 4K offering.

VentureBeat shared an alleged render of the Chromecast Ultra. The Chrome logo shown on the 1080p version of the Chromecast is gone and a subtle "G" has been added.

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Evan Blass / VentureBeat

Android Police reports the Chromecast Ultra will be available for $69, expected to sell alongside the second-generation Chromecast with 1080p streaming for $35.

It's believed the Chromecast Ultra will feature firmware version 1.21, which was released to developers earlier this month as part of the Chromecast Preview program that removed all Chrome branding.

It's not clear when, or where, the Chromecast Ultra will be on sale.

Google Home

Google's take on Amazon Echo, which is called Google Home and was announced at Google I/O in May, is believed to be getting a lot of airtime during the October event.

Android Police reports Google Home will cost $129, undercutting the Amazon Echo that retails for $179.

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Google Home

Like the Echo, Home works as a voice-activated speaker capable of connecting to devices around the home (such as the Nest thermostat) and completing basic tasks like playing music or searching Google.

At the core of Google Home is Google Assistant, the search giant's take on a virtual assistant capable of an "ongoing, two-way dialogue." It's said to use machine learning to get to know the user over time.

The theory is you can launch Google Assistant from Google Home as you're halfway across the room.

No word on when Google Home will be available, but we expect to hear more at the event.

Google Wi-Fi Router

Google dabbled in wireless routers with its OnHub last year, but now it wants to push further with its self-branded router called "Google Wifi."

Android Police reports Google Wifi will retail for $129 and is described as designed like a small, white Amazon Echo Dot, and you can reportedly expand it with multiple access points for better connection across the home.

Daydream VR

Google is likely to provide more details, like a release date for the public version, for its Daydream virtual reality software platform during the October event.

Google's developer website teases: "Coming in Fall 2016, Daydream provides rich, responsive, and immersive experiences with hardware and software built for VR."

Unveiled during Google I/O in May, Daydream is Google's software framework for virtual reality devices (think Android for phones). It's not clear what hardware partners will use Daydream.

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DayDream

A September report said Google is buying VR content and apps, along with funding 360-degree videos from top YouTube personalities. Hulu, Netflix, and IMAX are bringing their libraries to Daydream too.

Huawei Tablet: Maybe?

Often-correct @evleaks tweeted he expects a Huawei-built 7-inch tablet with 4GB RAM to be released before the end of the year.

A lot of details are still up in the air. Will it be Nexus branded? Read on.

Andromeda

There is a chance Google could show us its alleged Android and Chrome OS hybrid software called "Andromeda." Earlier this month, Android Police reported Google will launch a "Pixel 3" laptop running Andromeda sometime in Q3 2017.

Chromebook Pixel 2015
(Image: File photo)

It's not likely Google will talk about any Andromeda Pixel hardware at the October event, but it could preview the software to give developers time to build or modify their apps for the new ecosystem.

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In October 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported plans for Google to fold its Chrome operating system into Android. It's not clear what Google will call Andromeda for consumers.

Interestingly, 9to5Google reported Google is planning to release Andromeda on a Huawei Nexus tablet. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

Made by Google

The tagline "Made by Google" in the event teaser could signal a new era of self-branded Google devices.

As always, we advise you to take rumors with a grain of salt, as hardware plans are constantly changing in the tech industry.

ZDNet will be covering the latest rumors and announcements from Google.

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